Study: Almost All Nursing Homes Hire Employees With Criminal Pasts

Could the nursing home where your loved one lives be staffed by those with criminal pasts? According to a new study conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the answer is most likely, “yes.”

The investigation by the federal government, which looked at the criminal pasts of 35,000 nursing home employees with the assistance of the FBI, found that more than nine out of ten nursing homes throughout the country have one or more employees with criminal backgrounds and that five percent of all nursing home staff members have a criminal record.

While there is a federal law stating that nursing homes should not employ a person with a history of abusing patients or neglecting patients, there are no laws preventing those with other convictions – even violent crime convictions – from seeking work at nursing homes. While ten states require nursing homes to run FBI background checks and another 33 require state-centered background checks, the remaining states do not have regulations. Generally, it is easy for criminals to hide their past, move states, or avoid detection. In the study, the FBI found that most crimes involved drugs or burglary, though some involved assault or other violent crimes.

Although many nursing homes did thorough background checks on nurses and others who work directly on patients, many did not do criminal checks on those working in food service, laundry, or cleanup jobs.

Why are nursing homes hiring those with a criminal past? Some experts say that one of the most troubling problems facing nursing homes is how difficult it is to find staff members. With shockingly low pay, poor work conditions, long hours, a high turnover rate, and an emotionally stressful environment, not many people want to enter the nursing home workforce – and those who do may have a past.